There were many concerns that the women’s French Open draw would turn into a complete mess but when it comes to the bottom half of the draw, both the top seeds advanced even those expectations differed on their chances. 3rd seed Simona Halep was expected to still but Karolina Pliskova was seen as a target for a shock loss early on. The number one spot is still up for grabs at the tournament – Halep must win the title while merely a spot in the finals will be enough for the Czech.
It didn’t materialise partly because Pliskova ended up with a giftwrapped draw, her toughest opponent on paper being 28th seed Caroline Garcia. Even as a top 3 player in the world, Pliskova has been subject to a number of bad losses so has to be applauded for making her way through the draw, even if she was taken to 3 sets by players she shouldn’t have really struggled against. Pliskova put in a clean display against the Frenchwoman, winning 7-6 6-4 backed up by a +12 differential in the winners/unforced errors stat. “Before this tournament I was still struggling on clay,” Pliskova said. “I didn’t have my weapons on my side and the movement was terrible. I don’t think it’s better, but somehow I’m winning. Today I can finally say I felt a little bit better on the court.”
Meanwhile, Halep was close to disaster in her quarter final when down 3-6 1-5 against Elena Svitolina. It seemed like the pressure of favouritism would get to her once more but an almighty display followed as she rolled off 12 of the next 13 games to win the match, while also fighting off 0-30 when serving to stay in the match and a match point while on serve at *5-6. “And then I started to feel more relaxed (once down in the score) – maybe because I thought it’s finished – and I change the rhythm. I put some high balls. I just tried to make her move more, to open the court, and it came. I don’t know how, but it was really good.” The Romanian said.
Halep is the deserved favourite going into the match given her clay credentials and the 4-1 head to head record she holds. However, Pliskova’s style can create danger for any player on her day – it’s just the consistency on clay is not quite there just yet. “I think I’m able to play better tennis, which I’m probably going to need tomorrow.” The Czech commented. “We’ve played a few times, it’s going to be tricky, because she’s almost everywhere and not missing much. I think I have to be more aggressive than I was today.”